Senate bill loosening teen work restriction advances

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Zephyrhills Republican Senator Danny Burgess // The Florida Channel. 1/30/24

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A bill advanced in a Senate committee Tuesday loosening restrictions on labor laws for 16 and 17-year-olds in Florida. WMNF’s Chris Young reports this bill is a less extreme version of a House bill seeking to roll back child labor laws.

Under the bill, 16 and 17-year-olds could work from 5:30 am to midnight. Under current law, the limit is from 6:30 am to 11 pm. The bill is sponsored by Zephyrhills Republican Senator Danny Burgess.

“What drew me to this issue is, we homeschool. My kids are homeschooled, and so they’re too young to work right now. But when they become of age, they may be done with school by 1 PM.”

The bill also allows the state to grant waivers of certain child labor restrictions.

Most public comment was against the bill. Gretchen Robinson is a teacher from Orlando.

“We need to let these kids sleep, right? Kids need to be in school, they need to not be sleep deprived because that manager at McDonald’s can now give them a choice between closing on a school night or not being able to keep the job that’s likely helping their family keep a roof over their heads.”

Orlando Democratic Senator Linda Steward voted against the bill.

“A 16-year-old should not be out working until midnight, getting home about one o’clock in the morning, most of the time because of the drive issues. I think it’s just too dangerous.”

The bill advanced 4 to 1 in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.

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